Sapana Pradhan Malla
CA member, UML, Nepal
Q1: Four years have already been spent yet the constitution has not been written. How much share is there of the female CA members in this delay as regards the drafting of the constitution?
Ms. Malla: If you look at this, then as per the laws, constitutional provisions and the procedures, each and every CA members are equally responsible for the delay observed. Concurrently, the entire CA body and the CA Speaker too should be held responsible for this delay as such. Having said all these, the writing of the constitution is definitely a political matter and thus what I would say is that the political parties and its leaders too were equally responsible. The demand of the time is to go together forging consensus while writing the constitution but the parties forward their rigid stances and remain adamant on their respective positions and this is what has delayed both the constitution drafting and the peace process. Much time was consumed in lingering the peace process which should have completed already by now. I see an equally responsible largest party which is responsible for this delay. I mean it.
Q2: Do you see the hands of foreign forces?
Ms. Malla: When you talk of the foreign forces, mind it this force is also a political one. Well, the fact is also that there is the influence of foreign forces, constitutional experts are visiting Nepal and some even claim that the constitution has already been drafted by some outside the country, but yet I would say that the constitution writing process has not been influenced in that manner as you have stated. We have several issues wherein we have enjoyed consensus amongst ourselves on matters of the constitution. The influence has much to do with the debates and tussle among the parties than from the outside manipulation.
Q3: So can we presume that there has been some impact of such an influence coming from the outside quarters? Which sector has become weaker? The CA body or the leaders of the political parties?
Ms. Malla: Each and every person has a habit of looking at things in a different manner. But when it comes to the question of constitution writing then one has to abide by certain procedures and keep on it until the peace process gets completed. However, the problem is that established procedures are completely ignored and political routes rule supreme while arriving at a crucial decision. Thus what could at least be said that the jobs that had to be accomplished through the CA body itself abiding by the procedures have at best been done through outside pressures and influence.
I would say that the main cause which could be held mainly responsible is the trust deficit among the political parties. It is this lack of confidence in between and among us which is mainly responsible. We could not follow the procedures and guidelines charted by the CA body. There are certain procedures which needed its strict following while writing the constitution, for having the primary sketch of the constitution, to bring such things into a broader debate, for the endorsement of these. We could not follow those guidelines and provisions. If you look at it constitutionally then it is the CA body itself which is the villain but not the political parties. But since the CA members were from various parties and thus the penetration of the political parties was there in a heavy manner. This should mean that the political parties inside the CA body too were equally responsible.
Q4: What is the situation of the national security at the moment?
Ms. Malla: We should look at the prevailing security situation from a different angle to which we had been used to. The security situation of the State is different than what it used to be in the past. May be yesterday, security of the borders were vital and important then as of today, I see now that the increasing criminal activities and acts of organized terrorism have come up as a big threat to the security circumstances. These were the challenges to the State. Security has several dimensions, for example, human security, food security, and security to human lives. However, what I feel is that when it comes to the preservation and enhancement of national security, all the parties should form a united view. All the Nepalese people should have a common feeling as regards the country’s security state of affairs. If Nepal survives and remains into existence then only can we remain as a Nepali national.
Q5: And also tell us about the efforts now being made as regards the Militia integration?
Ms. Malla: There remains no alternative to army integration. This has come along with Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA, and has also been incorporated in the interim constitution as well. But when you want to enter into state structure, you must abide by the standards set with. Our men engaged in the security agencies are not only for Nepal alone but they do have to go to international peace keeping missions in various troubled countries. To recall, the Nepal Army and Nepal Policemen have served the nation being abroad which has made us all proud of their accomplishments. There are several things to be kept into proper account, such as set standards, prior to going for integration processes. Standards set must be met with.
If we take this issue on political terms then one has also to think over the impact that could be in the pipeline while integrating an ideologically indoctrinated army into the mainstream national army. Efforts should be made on how to lessen the very likely negative impact as and when such integration does take place.
Q6: What about then of the female militias during the integration process?
Ms. Malla: Now one has also to become more sensible and responsible on matters of female militia integration. The manner with which the Maoists had taken up the issue of gender, as regards the female militia, appears to have taken a grand slide. This is being felt everywhere. While seeking voluntary retirement, many female militias may have opted for being with their respective family members.
Q7: How much confident you are about the constitution being drafted in the remaining months?
Ms. Malla: Frankly speaking, if the army integration process takes up the desired speed then only can the constitution be drafted. Let’s not wait for the last day of the expiry of the CA body but instead concentrate our efforts in having a primary draft-sketch of the constitution. Matters like democracy, federal order and inclusive pattern have already been decided for its incorporation in the new constitution. If we toe these lines then we can draft the constitution on time or it will remain a distant affair.
Q8: All would be well if the Maoists will be in government is what was being given to understand. Do you think that these faith and believes have all gone to the dogs?
Ms. Malla: Definitely, the kind of expectations that the people have had from the Maoists party, it could not be like that. Things remained as usual while Prachanda was the Prime Minister of Nepal. Now Bhattarai is the Prime Minister from whom the people had expected much but yet things have not changed. When a party itself is mired in problems of rift and fissures then that state becomes more challenging. Various parties wished to support the Maoists but the party itself remained in a divided state. The Maoists are themselves to be held responsible in the lessening of the people’s faith in this particular party. The Maoists party leaders have even obstructed procedures in bringing about suitable changes in the laws in order to sort out the contentious issues as regards the constitution draft. The entire process has come to a grinding halt.
Q9: You are a student of Law. Tell us what if the constitution is not drafted on time?
Ms. Malla: Firstly, I for one believe that the constitution would be drafted on time. I am hopeful in this regard. But if the Charter doesn’t come then it will invite constitutional complications for sure. Mind it that the Supreme Court fresh verdict is also in place already. In such an acute upcoming transitional phase, I think a fresh political decision has to be made to manage the entire affair. Well, maybe we will have to embrace fresh polls. Even if it is an election then also you have to have some special schemes to handle the emerging situation.
Text Courtesy: Ghatana Ra Bichar Weekly dated February 29, 2012. Thanks: Ed.